My Birthday Cake

Normally I would post a recipe on my recipe blog, but I am just going to post a link to the blogspot that the recipe originated instead.

For my birthday, I made MYSELF a 4 layer Chocolate Malt Chocolate Cake…all from scratch and WONDERFUL!!! I have wanted to try this cake for over a month and FINALLY my tastebuds were NOT disappointed! The only things I did different from the recipe were to bake in 10 inch pans and instead of using whoppers, I decorated with the leftover semi-sweet chocolate chips because I bought a 24 oz bag. By using the 10 inch pans, I was able to use ALL the frosting! It was JUST ENOUGH.

This is quite possibly the best chocolate cake I have ever made and I used to make cakes on a somewhat professional level! There is just something about the different chocolates…dutch cocoa…semi-sweet chocolate…all the rich chocolates that I LOVE!

ANYWAY, I obviously enjoyed my birthday cake. This year felt like I had several weeks of birthday celebration, as though I were a child again instead of a 37 year old. Life is getting back to normal, except with leftover cake! YUM

Little tidbits of my life!



Apple Butter

I received a comment on my last post from Sister Brenda asking for my apple butter recipe. It is actually Great Aunt Grace’s recipe.

We have a couple apple trees and they produce kind of small apples, but tart and good for cooking.

I pick enough apples to fill a 5 gallon bucket. This will make 2 batches of apple butter and you will need 2 crock pots if you use the entire 5 gallons of apples.


The following recipe is for only ONE batch (1 crockpot full) of apple butter:

2.5 gallons apples (1/2 the 5 gallon bucket)

3 cups sugar (I decreased this to 2 1/2 cups last batch and liked it better)

1 tsp cinnamon (I double this usually, though)

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp vanilla (I used my homemade vanilla in the last batch…YUMMY!…and I tripled the amount 


Peel, core and slice apples and put the slices into crockpot till full. (I use a SmartPot Crockpot)

Pour the sugar over the apples, then add the cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.

No need to stir…simply cook overnight (I cook for 9-10 hours in my crockpot) and then get the jars ready to can them in the morning. Either stir the apples (they will be super tender) or mix them with a blender, depending on your preference of smoothness. Leave the lid on the apple butter until you have added it to the canning jars so that it will be hot. (I leave crock pot on warm setting until I spoon it out of the crockpot)

Yields approx 4 pints (a tadbit more if you cooked 9 hours, a tadbit less if you cook over 10 hours…also will be sweeter the longer you cook it, so if you prefer it more tart, go with no more than 9 hours)

I use half pint jars to can the apple butter, but for a larger household, you may want to use pint jars.

Canning instructions for apple butter: wash and rinse 8 half-pint jars in scalding hot water (I like to run mine in dishwasher and get them out to use just as the dishwasher stops running water and the jars are very hot) and also boil water, then turn heat off and add 8 flaps and lids to the scalding hot water. Place jars on a dishtowel very close together and fill each jar with the apple butter, then add a flap and tighten the lid. It will be HOT, so use an oven mit, or something to protect hand. Place another dishtowel over the jars and just leave it alone till you hear that WONDERFUL pop that shows it has sealed.

I also recommend this neat little kit that I found at Walmart in the canning section…I threw the box away, but I recall it was blue. It includes a little gadget with a magnet on the end that picks up the flaps and lids out of the hot water to make it easier to can…plus the ladle and jar funnel (but wide, like the jar mouth) are perfect size for these little jars…and a ruler that measures up to an inch at the jar lip so you can fill to a precise measurement based on recipe instructions.

NOW PICTURES: Below is a half-full jar of apple butter along with the neat canning kit I mentioned above. (I LOVE gadgets)

This is another pic of the magnetic gadget actually picking up a flap

I posted this before, but since this post relates to it, here is one of my favorite kitchen gadgets:

AND FINALLY, this is a close up of one of our apple trees:

Cheesecake Cookies YUMMY!!!

I found a WONDERFUL recipe on mommaofmany’s blog for Cheesecake Cookies, but the blog is no longer available. Thank you mommaofmany for sharing such a great dish!

Cheesecake Cookies

10 TBSP butter, softened

2/3 cup brown sugar

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

16 oz cream cheese softened

2 eggs

4 TBSP milk

2 TBSP lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Mix butter, brown sugar and flour until crumbly. set aside 1 cup of crumbs. Lightly grease a 9 x 13. Press remaining crumbs into bottom. Bake for 15 minutes.

In another bowl, combine sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in egg, milk, lemon juice and vanilla. Spread over crust and sprinkle with topping. Bake 25 minutes. Cut into squares.

You can also spread your favorite preserves over bottom crust before adding the cheesecake mixture. Bake as directed.

NOTE FROM TERESA: My oven required 30 min bake time when I baked this recipe, so just use best judgement. AND MOMMAOFMANY, I HOPE YOU START BLOGGING AGAIN SOON. I MISS YOUR RECIPES!!!!

It was great all by itself, but I added a few strawberries I had put in the fridge with sugar a couple days ago…and a dab of cool whip.


New York Cheesecake

New York Cheesecake anyone???

This is my New York Cheesecake. Pictured above includes a chocolate drizzle (of which I will include the recipe below). Pictured below includes a caramel sauce drizzle. The caramel sauce is WONDERFUL, but I actually bought the caramel sauce at “Fresh Market” in town. I sometimes make my own, though.  

Note, the following recipes can be used for the largest springform pan of the Wilton 3-pan set…OR one recipe is enough for two cheesecakes when using the small and medium pans. I prefer to make the two small/medium sizes because it seems to have less tendancy to crack and my hubby and I can taste-test the small one and take the medium one to family gathering, etc.

NOTE: I have a gas oven, so instructions given are based on my oven being propane heated. I try to differentiate where applicable.

First Recipe:

Graham Cracker Crust:

1 1/2 packs graham crackers crushed. I buy Original Honey Grahams and I crush them in a gallon size freezer bag.

8 TBS butter, melted

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in bag. Before pressing the mixed ingredients into springform pan(s), spread butter liberally around bottom and sides of springform pan. Now pour the graham cracker mixture into pan and press firmly in bottom and up one inch on the sides of the pan(s). Place springform pan onto a cookie sheet and set aside.

Next Recipe:

New York Cheesecake filling – Preheat oven to 475 degrees

5 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese softened to room temperature

1 3/4 cups sugar

3 TBS all-purpose flour

1/4 cup liquid – either half pulp-free orange juice and half lemon juice for traditional flavor…or half key lime juice and half lemon juice for key lime version…proportion not important, as long as it equals 1/4 cup total. I just pour mine into a 1/4 measure cup

NOTE: alternate to liquid above is finely grated zest of 1 orange or lemon…I’ve never tried it this way

5 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla

Beat cream cheese and sugar, then add flour and liquid until smooth. Add eggs and yolks, one at a time, then vanilla – beating on low speed to prevent bubbles. Pour filling into prepared crust(s) (recipe above). Bake on baking sheet on top oven rack (works best in my gas oven, you may want to put in middle for conventional oven??) Bake at 475 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 325 degrees (this is lowest setting my gas oven will go before flickering and flame goes out…can cook at 250 degrees in conventional oven)…and continue baking until cake is mostly firm. The center will be slightly wobbly. Based on my gas oven, I bake smallest pan for 1 hour…medium pan 1 hour 10 min…large pan 1 hour 20 min.

NOTE: to help prevent cracking, I always put a pan half full of water on the oven rack below the cake (as shown in picture above) and keep it in there during the entire baking process. ALSO, as soon as I take cheesecake(s) out of oven, I dip a knife in very hot water and gently run it around edge of cheesecake to further reduce cracking. Cheesecake will flatten as it cools.

Cool cake completely in springform pan. Add optional topping (recipe follows). 

Chill cake, loosely covered at least 6 hours.


Chocolate Glaze for Cheesecake

4 oz heavy whipping cream

8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

Bring cream to a boil in heavy saucepan on medium to low heat. Remove from heat and immediately stir in chips and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Pour over cake.

NOTE: If out of heavy whipping cream, I sometimes substitute 1/8 cup sweetened condensed milk plus 1/8 cup regular milk. I whip the two milks together, then I heat it same as above…

LOTS OF cookie recipes YUMMMM!!!!

NOTE: explanation of above pic…I asked hubby to come help me flatten the peanut butter cookies with aa fork while I prepare the second baking sheet…result: waffle like cookies!  He used my meat tenderizer (ie, the wooden thing laying there)…it did the trick, though!

I received these cookie recipes in an email and just came across them today in my recipe file…enjoy!


Cookie Recipes from…just click on any name to go to the recipe…

Chocolate Christmas Trees Chocolate Cream Cheese Squares Chocolate Crinkles Chocolate Mint Snow-Top Cookies Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies (no bake) Chocolate Snowball Cookies Chocolate Streusel Bars Chocolate Sundae Cookies Chocolate Walnut Crumb Bars Choco-Scotch Crunchies Choose A Cookie Dough Recipe Christmas Crackers Christmas Crunch Bars Christmas Ginger Snaps Christmas Macaroons Christmas Mice Cookies Christmas Shaped Cookies Church Window Cookies Coconut Cookies Congo Squares Cookie in a Jar Corn Flakes Cookies Cornflake Christmas Wreaths Cowboy Cookies (oatmeal) Cream Cheese Cookies with Apricot Filling Crème De Menthe Chocolate Squares Crème Wafers Crescent Cookies Crispy Crunchies Date Nut Balls Date-nut Pinwheel Cookies Diabetic Peanut Butter Cookies Disgustingly Rich Brownies Doodles Double chocolate chip cookies Double-Chocolate Crinkles Eatmore Cookies Eggnog Cookies Elizabeth’s Sugar Cookies Elves Quick Fudge Brownies Emily Dickinson’s Gingerbread Cookie Recipe Emily’s Best Brownies Famous Oatmeal Cookies Firemen Cookies Fluffy Shortbread Cookies Forgotten Cookies Frosted Peanut Butter Brownies Fruit Cake Cookies Fruitcake Squares Fry Pan Cookies Gems Ginger Cookies Ginger Crinkles Gingerbread Baby Gingerbread Cookies with Butter Cream Icing Gingerbread Men Gingerbread Men Ginny’s Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies Glory’s Golden Graham Squares Glory’s Sugar Cookies Gramma Chapman’s chocolate coconut drops Grandma Elsie’s Zimt (cinnamon) Cookies Grandma J’s Butter Cookies Grandma Olson’s Parkay Cookies Great Grandmothers Sugar Cookies Gum Drop Cookies Gumdrop Gems Haystack Cookies Ho-Ho Bars Holiday Cereal Snaps Holiday Chocolate Butter Cookies Holiday Raisin Walnut Bars Holly Cookies Hungarian Cookies (Little Nut Rolls) Ice Box Cookies Irresistible Peanut Butter Cookies Italian Cookies Jacob’s Peppermint Snowballs Jam Bars Jessica’s Famous Brownies Jessie’s Chocolate Chip Cookies Jubilee Jumbles Juliet’s Peanut Butter Blossoms Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies Kentucky Colonels Kiefle (cream cheese cookies with jam filling) Kifflings Kiss Cookies Lacy Swedish Almond Wafers Lemon Angel Bar Cookies Lemon Bars Lemon Cake Cookies Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies Lemon Squares Linzer Tarts Log Cabin Cookies Luscious Lemon Squares M&M Cookies Magic Cookie Bars Melt in Your Mouth Cutout Sugar Cookies Melting Shortbread Meme’s Cream Cheese Cookies Milk Chocolate Florentine Cookies Mincemeat Cookies Mincemeat Goodies Molasses Cookies Molasses Forest Cookies Molasses Sugar Cookies Mom Mom’s Crescent Cookies Mom-Mom’s Ginger Cookies Mom’s Nutmeg Sugar Cookies Mom’s Old Fashion “Puffy” Sugar Cookies Monster Cookies Moravian Christmas Cookies Nana’s Famous Soft Southern Cookies Nitey Nite Cookies No Bake Chocolate Cookies No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies No Bake Cookies No Bake Cookies No Bake Peanut Butter Cookies No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies No-Bake Cookies Norwegian Sugar Cookies Nut Balls Oatmeal Bars Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Nut Cookies Oatmeal Coconut Crisps Oatmeal Cookies Oatmeal Scotchies Old
Fashioned Sugar Cookies
Ooey Gooey Caramel Chocolate Dunk Ooey Gooey Squares Orange Slice Cookies Parking Lot Cookies Peanut Blossoms Peanut Butter Bars Peanut Butter Blossoms Peanut Butter Cereal Cookies Peanut Butter Chewies Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars Peanut Butter Cookies Peanut Butter Cookies Peanut butter fingers Peanut Butter Reindeer Peanut Butter Surprises Peanut Marshmallow Cookies Pecan Puff Cookies Peppermint Snowballs Peppernuts Persimmon Cookies Persimmon Cookies Petey’s Yummy Spicy Almond Thins Pfeffernuesse Pffefferneuse Cookies Pineapple Filled Cookies Pizzelles Potato Chip Cookies Potato Flake Cookies Praline Cookies Praline Strips Pterodactyl Nests Pumpkin Bars Pumpkin Bars Pumpkin Chip Cookies Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies Pumpkin Cookies Queen Biscuits Quick Cookies Raised Sugar Cookies Raisin Filled Oatmeal Bars Raspberry Meringue Bars Really Peanutty Butter Cookies Reese`s Brownies Reese’s Peanut Butter Bars Rich Flavor Christmas Cookies Rich Lemon Bars Ricotta Cheese Cookies Royal Almond Christmas Bars Rudolph Cinnamon Cookies Russian Tea Cookies Russian Teacakes Samantha & Kelsey’s Chocolate Chip Cookies Sand Art Brownies Santa Claus Cookie Pops Santa Claus Cookies Santa’s Butterscotch Melts Santa’s Shorts Santa’s Special Squares Scotch Cakes Scotch Shortbread Scotcharoos Scotcheroos Seven Layer Cookies Short Bread Cookies Shortbread Skor Squares Snicker Doodle Cookies Snickerdoodles Snickerdoodles Snow Balls Sour Cream Apple Squares Sour Cream Christmas Cookies Special K Cookies Spice Cookies Spicy Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Spritz Cookies Stained Glass Window Cookies Stir & Drop Sugar Cookies Sugar Cookies Sugar Cookies Sugar Cookies Swedish Pepparkakor (Pepper Cake) Cookies Swedish Sugar Cookies Sweet Marie’s Swiss Treats Taralle (Italian Cookies) Tea Time Tassies Texas Brownies The Best Shortbread in The World Thumbprint Cookies Thumbprint Cookies Toffee Squares Traditional Christmas Sugar Cookies Traditional Gingerbread Men Cookies Triple-Chocolate Chip Cookies Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies Vanilla Waffer Balls Walnut Butter Cookies Walnut Crumb Bars White Chip Chocolate Cookies Wild Oatmeal Cookies Will’s Famous Apple Jack Cookies Yummy Yummy Peanut Butter Blossoms

Vanilla Beans for homemade Extract

Post from 2008

Do you make your own vanilla extract??? (SEE NOTE AT BOTTOM FOR LATEST UPDATE ON RECIPE)

I had recently read a blog here about making Vanilla Extract from scattertheseeds…I was SO EXCITED to find a GREAT and unique Christmas gift idea! I’ve been thinking about ways to use my Starbucks frappucino bottles and I think this is going to be it! Thank you “scattertheseeds”!

I went to “Fresh Market”, a store in Chattanooga, Tennessee to purchase the vanilla beans. I had no idea they were SO EXPENSIVE!!! I paid about $3.99 per bean!!!! SO, after researching the homemade extract options online, I came across an ebay store that sells vanilla beans in bulk CLICK HERE to go to Vanilla Products USA.

I am looking forward to receiving my beans in the mail soon!!! ALSO, if you buy them at this particular ebay store, they have a sale right now that if you buy over $25 worth of merchandise, you get an extra 1 lb of vanilla beans free (that’s ALOT of beans!). I only purchased 40 beans for now (@4.99 for 20). I think that will be plenty. There was also a $1 discount on shipping when I checked out (instead of $5, it was $4) b/c I am in the USA. Total spent was just a little less than $14…close to the same price I paid at a retail store for only 4 beans!!!

As far as the recipe, I have researched several options. I think I am going to use vodka as my base b/c I read that it is neutral in taste, and I will just add about a Tablespoon of a dark rum to each bottle. I read that the rum can be overpowering if used for the entire bottle, but that adding just a little can enhance the flavor.


I’ve read several opinions on ratio of beans to liquid. I think I will go with 2 beans to every 1/2 cup of liquid and then I can add more liquid or beans in a few weeks depending on my preference for strength. I will slice the beans open lengthwise before putting them in the bottle.

Once the liquid is added, store in cabinet w/tight lid for approx. 6 weeks before using…shake the bottle frequently during the 6 weeks.


Some folks suggest scraping the inside of the bean into the bottle…some suggest cutting up the entire bean into tiny pieces or even 1/2 inch pieces and adding…no matter what method you choose, when you are ready to put it in a jar to give away, you can either syphen it through a filter of some sort (like a coffee filter or tea filter) if you want to remove the bean…or just leave the bean. Who doesn’t like vanilla bean ice cream w/the bits of bean all in it???

Several opinions suggested using the entire bean sliced open, then remove it after 6 weeks, let it dry out, then put it in a sugar bowl w/sugar…then you’ll have VANILLA SUGAR!!! YUM

I hope all is well with you today and that you are enjoying this beautiful day (at least it is beautiful here in N. Georgia today!). I love to hear the birds outside and watch the squirrels play now that they can’t get into my bird feeder! At least some of the birds give them crumbs.

UPDATE: This is how we ended up making ours after we received our WONDERFUL beans: we added 20 beans sliced open to the large bottle of vodka. We added 4 beans to the rum bottle. Keep in dark cabinet for 6 weeks in airtight container. Shake once a day. After 6 weeks, your vanilla extract is ready! Add 4 parts vodka to 1 part rum when mixing. The starbucks bottles worked great for me to hold my extract, especially when others asked for some to use for themselves.

God bless you!